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muse Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition • Volume 1 Number 3 • March/April 2017

Inside This Issue

Happenings in Montbello...4 & 5 Nonprofits Making A Difference 6 & 7 Montbello in the News...8, 9 & 15 Voices from the Neighborhood...10, 11 &14 Kudos and Woo Hoos!...12 Youth On The Move…13

Message to Immigrants and Refugees

You are welcome in this community!...1

“Come one, come all... all are welcome.”

Rev. James Fouther Jr.

United Church of Montbello

4879 Crown Blvd Denver CO, 80239 303-373-0070


Like many of you I wear many hats. I have multiple jobs and on any given day I am in love with any one of those jobs – whether it be working on projects for Montbello Organizing Committee, tending children’s gardens with youth at United Church of Montbello, or writing grant proposals for local nonprofit organizations. But, today, I am most in love with my job as editor and lead writer of the MUSE. It is truly a pleasure and a privilege to cover the news and tease out the ideas, concerns, and dreams of the people who live in the Montbello community. As a journalist, I take seriously my role and responsibility to accurately inform and educate the reader about events and issues and how those might affect their lives. In preparation for each issue, I spend chunks of time reaching out to sources for information, perusing the internet and public records, interviewing expert sources, and visiting the places where the story takes place. The actual writing is the easy part. Through the process of identifying resident concerns and following up on story leads, I have met many interesting, thoughtful, and articulate people; a few angry ones; and some who are timid yet passionate about their issues. I have interviewed young people, old people, and people in between. My challenge is to listen and actually hear and then report their stories authentically and without judgement – and, of course, to meet the publisher’s deadlines. Each issue, I make it a practice to extend some invitation to take action on behalf of the community. This issue, I invite you to contribute in some way to the MUSE. “How can I do that,” you ask. There are several ways: write a letter to the editor, submit an op-ed piece for consideration, prepare an article on a newsworthy topic, send us press releases or suggest story leads from your organization, participate on the MUSE Editorial Advisory Committee. Whatever your interest, contact me at and I will answer your questions and send you the guidelines for submissions. Disclaimers, of course, we always reserve the right to reject or modify your submissions. Thank you for allowing me to be privy to the inner workings of this community and for the opportunity to share with others the stories that make Montbello great. Respectfully, Donna Garnett, Editor Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The Power of US


hand. The foot needs the ear. We don’t make it without each other. We may get by but never will we reach greatness. As I consider the condition of our schools I have to conclude that some of our struggles are a direct result of the inability of leadership to bring us together, to rally us around a singular cause, to leverage the strength of the whole. Too often we see and experience tactics that divide us and scapegoat different components of us. We see tactics that place us in camps that box us in to one ideology or perspective always causing us to fall short of our goals as a community. This strategy ignores the network of mutuality. It ignores that we are equal threads in a single garment of destiny. I know that I am where I am today because of the village, because of the collaboration between home, school, church, elders, mentors, barbershop, corner store, rec center, police officers, volunteers, friends, my neighbors, and my peers. I didn’t get here because of isolation. The collaboration of US…all stakeholders included….helped me. It is the solution for today’s challenges and the realization of tomorrow’s hopes! US.

Editor: We do not thrive in isolation. We were born for relationship and to be interdependent on one another. I need you. You need me. Communities do not thrive when all people and parts are not collaborating. Communities cannot reach our highest hopes, vanquish our greatest struggles, or thrive across generations without an unwavering commitment to do what it takes together. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. This is the interrelated structure of all reality. You can never be what you ought to be until I become what I ought to be. By the same token, though, I can never become what I ought to be until you become what you ought to be.” It is inescapable. Yet many operate as if our neighbor’s struggle is inconsequential to our existence. It isn’t. It may not be directly impacting your life but indirectly it is. We should not be able see a neighbor in struggle, beat down by life, carrying a load of pain and not provide some relief. How can you have a pantry full of food and simply just wish a neighbor well that is starving? Or have a pantry full and respond simply with I’ll pray for you? (Not minimizing prayer but elevating our responsibility to put some feet on our prayers. Be an answered prayer by acting!) I believe that our best solutions require us. I believe that great schools require us. Great communities, cities, companies, and countries require us. Everyone working together, upholding our responsibilities, encouraging one another, trusting one another, and equally valuing and celebrating what everyone brings to the table. The eye needs the

PUBLISHER - Montbello Organizing Committee/Denver Urban Spectrum EDITOR - Donna Garnett CONTRIBUTING WRITERS - Vernon Jones, Jr., Loretta Pineda, Sarah Kurz, Gerri Gomez-Howard Translations by Marta Welch and Loretta Pineda ART DIRECTOR - Bee Harris ADVERTISING SALES CONSULTANT - Melovy Melvin

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS - Kyle Harris, Khadija Haynes, Kara Pearson Gwinn

Vernon Jones, Jr. Denver

Editor’s note: Vernon Jones Jr. (PJones) is President of Live Forward Colorado, Associate Pastor at True Light Baptist Church, a Catapult Leadership Fellow and a former leader in Denver Public Schools. He is a 17-year resident of Northeast Denver with his wife Jaymie and their five children. You can reach him at

The Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition (MUSE) is a bi-monthly publication produced and published by the Denver Urban Spectrum (DUS) and the Montbello Organizing Committee (MOC). Contents of MUSE are copyright 2016 by Denver Urban Spectrum and the Montbello Organizing Committee. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers. MUSE is circulated throughout Denver’s Far Northeast community. MUSE welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment and may be submitted to the editor at For advertising information, email or call 303292-6446.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



“You are welcome in this community!” By Donna Garnett

In the month since President Donald Trump took the oath of office, he has issued a whirlwind of executive orders that, from the perspective of many, have thrown our country into a state of havoc. Let’s review three of those orders that have had a cruel and punishing impact on families around the country. But first, what is an executive order? An executive order issued by the President is a rule or order that has the force of law. Most often executive orders are issued as a means to fulfill campaign promises or as a way around Congress. Presidents since George Washington have used executive orders to act quickly to carry out their priorities. Donald Trump has certainly utilized the process to his advantage, but it should be noted that President Obama issued two more in his first three weeks in office than President Trump has. Congress is not required to approve an executive order but it also cannot overturn one. The only action Congress can take is to pass a law that stops funding for the implementation of the executive order. Of course, the President can veto that law. The judicial branch can declare an executive order unconstitutional. Three orders recently signed by the President are briefly described below. Enhancing Public Safety In The Interior Of The United States Executive Order signed Jan. 25, 2017. This order outlines changes to a few immigration policies, but most notably it strips federal grant money to so-called sanctuary cities. Additionally, the order authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to hire 10,000 more immigration officers, create a publicly available weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and review previous immigration policies. The order also calls on local and state law enforcement to detain or apprehend people who are in the U.S. illegally. Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Executive Order signed January 25, 2017. This order directs federal funding to be used in the construction of a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border. The order also calls for hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, building facilities to hold undocumented immigrants near the Mexican border and ending “catch-and-release” protocols, in which immigrants in the United States without documentation are not detained while they await court hearings. Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States Executive Order signed January 27, 2017. This order suspends the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia — for 90 days and stops all refugees from entering the country for 120 days. Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. On February 9, The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco upheld a temporary restraining order issued by a lower court that resulted in the travel ban being lifted. At this writing, that decision is still in effect but could change with additional executive orders or a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. So, what does all of this mean for Denver and the people who live here, many of whom have lived legally in this country for years?

Mayor Michael Hancock, City Council members, and city and county agency heads continue to publicly espouse the same message; “immigrants and refugees are welcome here.” In a YouTube message to the community, Mayor Hancock said, “If being a sanctuary city means that we value taking care of one another, and welcoming refugees and immigrants, then I welcome the title.” The Mayor continued, “If being a sanctuary city means that our law enforcement officers are expected to do the work of federal immigration authorities, or violate the constitutional rights of any of our people, we reject that.” In a February community meeting at Place Bridge Academy, where hundreds of immigrants, refugees, and advocates filled the auditorium, Denver Police Chief White reiterated that DPD will not become immigration law enforcement in Denver. His statement was underscored by ACLU Legal Director, Mark Silverstein, who said that local law enforcement is not responsible for nor is it authorized to enforce immigration. Local government agencies and advocacy organizations are being inundated with hundreds of calls from people with questions about what the executive orders mean for them and their families. Marta Welch, Coordinator of Communications and Outreach at the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning, stated that “Refugees are extremely concerned and as a consequence, are basically keeping a low profile. Many of those who had been sharing their stories publicly have been turning down new speaking opportunities. Several students from Spring Institute have reported that they have been emotionally impacted, are anxious about deportation and have many questions about legal status and documentation”. Since 1979, the Spring Institute has been serving people from all over the world, including the countries specifically named in the travel ban. Their adult education programs and advocacy efforts have helped thousands of families resettle in this country and in becoming productive, viable members of the community. What can immigrants and refugees do in light of this crisis? First and foremost, it is critical to know your rights and how to protect yourself. Every individual in this country has civil rights regardless of legal status. However, regardless of legal status, Joy Athanasiou of the American Immigration Lawyers Association urges immigrants to consult an immigration lawyer. Pro bono legal assistance is available to those who cannot afford to pay for legal services. Finally, it is imperative that those of us whose lives are not in jeopardy take a stand and reach out to our foreign neighbors. This is the time to get to know folks who are residents of the same communities in which we live. Get to know them, share a meal, volunteer in resettlement and post-resettlement agencies, attend rallies and community forums, speak up.Y

Editor’s note: For more information regarding resources to help immigrants and refugees in Denver, contact Denver Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs at 720-913-8471 or visit

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



“Ustedes son bienvenidos en esta comunidad!” Por Donna Ganett - Traducción al español por Marta Welch

Entonces, ¿qué significa todo esto para Denver y las personas que viven aquí, muchos de los cuales han vivido legalmente en este país durante tantos años? El alcalde Michael Hancock, miembros del Ayuntamiento, y jefes de la agencia de la ciudad y condado siguen apoyando en público el mismo mensaje, “los inmigrantes y refugiados son bienvenidos aquí”. En un mensaje de YouTube a la comunidad, el alcalde Hancock dijo, “Si ser una ciudad de santuario significa que valoramos el cuidado de unos a otros, y acogiendo a los refugiados e inmigrantes, entonces le doy la bienvenida al título”. El alcalde siguió, “Si ser una ciudad de santuario significa que se espera que nuestros oficiales de la ley hagan el trabajo de las autoridades federales de inmigración, o violen los derechos constitucionales de cualquiera de nuestra gente, rechazamos eso”. En una reunión de comunidad en febrero en Place Bridge Academy, donde cientos de inmigrantes, refugiados y defensores llenaron el auditorio, el Jefe de la Policía de Denver, White, reiteró que el DPD no se convertirá en la aplicación de la ley de inmigración en Denver. Su declaración fue subrayada por el Director Legal de ACLU, Mark Silverstein, quien dijo que las autoridades locales no son responsables ni están autorizados a hacer cumplir la inmigración. Agencias gubernamentales locales y organizaciones de defensa están siendo inundadas con cientos de llamadas de personas con preguntas sobre lo que significan las órdenes ejecutivas para ellos y sus familias. Marta Welch, Coordinadora de Comunicaciones y Alcance en Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning, declaró que “Los refugiados están sumamente preocupados y como una consecuencia, están básicamente manteniendo un bajo perfil. Muchos de aquellos que habían estado compartiendo sus historias públicamente están rechazando nuevas oportunidades de hablar. Varios estudiantes de Spring Institute han comentado que han sido emocionalmente afectados, están preocupados acerca de la deportación y tienen muchas preguntas sobre estatuto jurídico y la documentación”. Desde 1979, Spring Institute ha estado sirviendo a personas de todo el mundo, incluyendo los países nombrados específicamente en la prohibición de viajar. Sus programas de educación para adultos y actividades de la defensa han ayudado a miles de familias a establecerse en este país y convertirse en miembros productivos, viables de la comunidad. ¿Qué pueden hacer los inmigrantes y refugiados a la luz de esta crisis? Primero y principalmente, es fundamental conocer sus derechos y cómo protegerse. Cada individuo en este país tiene derechos civiles sin importar su estado legal. Sin embargo, independientemente del estado legal, Joy Athanasiou de la Asociación Americana de Abogados de Inmigración insta a los inmigrantes a consultar a un abogado de inmigración. La asistencia legal pro bono está disponible para aquellos que no pueden pagar por los servicios legales. Finalmente, es imperativo que aquellos de nosotros cuyas vidas no están en peligro tomen una posición y alcancen a nuestros vecinos extranjeros. Este es el momento de conocer a personas que son residentes de las mismas comunidades en que vivimos. Llegue a conocerlos, comparta una comida, sea un voluntario en las agencias de reubicación y del restablecimiento, asista en reuniones y foros de la comunidad, hable. Y

En el mes desde que el Presidente Donald Trump tomó el juramento de su cargo, ha emitido un torbellino de órdenes ejecutivas que, desde el punto de vista de muchos, han lanzado nuestro país en un estado de caos. Vamos a examinar tres de aquellos órdenes que han tenido un impacto cruel y que castiga a familias alrededor del país. ¿Pero primero, qué es una orden ejecutiva? Una orden ejecutiva emitida por el Presidente es una regla u orden que tiene fuerza de ley. Más a menudo las órdenes ejecutivas se emiten como un medio para cumplir promesas de campaña o como un camino alrededor del Congreso. Presidentes desde George Washington han utilizado órdenes ejecutivas para actuar con rapidez para llevar a cabo sus prioridades. Donald Trump ha utilizado ciertamente el proceso a su ventaja, pero debe tenerse en cuenta que el Presidente Obama publicó dos más en sus primeras tres semanas en el cargo que el Presidente Trump tiene. El Congreso no está obligado a aprobar una orden ejecutiva, pero también no puede revocar una. La única acción que puede tomar el Congreso es aprobar una ley que detiene la financiación para la ejecución de la orden ejecutiva. Por supuesto, el Presidente puede vetar esa ley. La rama judicial puede declarar una orden ejecutiva inconstitucional. Tres órdenes recientemente firmadas por el presidente son brevemente descritos abajo. Mejorando la Seguridad Pública en El Interior de Los Estados Unidos firmado el 25 de enero de 2017. Esta orden describe los cambios a unas cuantas políticas de inmigración, pero más notablemente le quita el dinero de la subvención federal a lugares llamados ciudades de santuario. Además, la orden autoriza al Secretario de la Seguridad Nacional de la Patria para contratar 10,000 más agentes de inmigración, crear una lista semanal disponible para el público de los delitos cometidos por inmigrantes indocumentados y revisar políticas de inmigración anteriores. La orden también hace un llamamiento a la policía local y estatal para detener o aprehender a las personas que están ilegalmente en los Estados Unidos. Las Mejoras de la Seguridad Fronterizas y la Aplicación de las Leyes de Inmigración firmadas el 25 de enero de 2017. Este orden dirige fondos federales para ser usados en la construcción de una pared a lo largo de la frontera de México-Estados Unidos. El orden también pide la contratación de 5,000 agentes más para la Patrulla de Frontera, construcción de instalaciones que sostengan a inmigrantes indocumentados cerca de la frontera mexicana y terminando los protocolos de la “cogida-y-liberación”, en los cuales los inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos sin la documentación no son detenidos mientras esperan audiencias de corte. Protegiendo a la Nación de Terroristas Extranjeros Entrando a los Estados Unidos firmado el 27 de enero de 2017. Esta orden suspende la entrada de inmigrantes de siete países de mayoría musulmana — Siria, Irán, Irak, Libia, Sudán, Yemen y Somalia — por 90 días y para a todos los refugiados de entrar al país por 120 días. Los refugiados de Siria están prohibidos indefinidamente. El 9 de febrero, La Corte de Apelaciones de los Estados Unidos para el Noveno Circuito en San Francisco confirmó una orden de restricción temporal emitida por un tribunal inferior que resultó en la suspensión de la prohibición de viajar. Desde este escrito, esa decisión todavía está en efecto pero podría cambiar con órdenes ejecutivas adicionales o con una decisión de la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos.

Nota del editor: Para obtener más información sobre recursos para ayudar a inmigrantes y refugiados en Denver, comuníquese con la Oficina de Asuntos de Inmigrantes y Refugiados de Denver al 720-913-8471 o visite

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



District 11 Council Office Host 2nd Annual Town Hall Visioning

Starting A New Business: Are You Ready?

Meeting Regarding Preservation of our Communities and Culture

Are you thinking of starting your own business? There are many reasons a person might be considering this avenue including, wanting to be more creative, more independent, more flexible. Other reasons include wanting to make more money, wanting to be more challenged, wanting to make a difference. And, for some, it fulfills a long-held dream. Before taking the big leap into a competitive, and often, complex world of entrepreneurship, ask yourself these questions: •Am I a self-starter? •Do I have what it takes to be successful in this business? •Will this business earn enough money from the outset or will I need to work for less for a period of time? •Do I have the resources (i.e. cash) for the business start-up and initial operating expenses until the business can turn a profit? •Is my family knowledgeable about and supportive of what it will take to launch and sustain this venture? •What does the competition look like in my chosen business line? Montbello is home to almost 700 small and medium size businesses which include wholesalers, manufacturing firms, retail establishment, child care facilities, home/office maintenance and repair, restaurants, marijuana dispensaries, and so on. Whether you plan to start up a new business or buy an existing business it is prudent to get professional help before you start down the path. Denver’s Office of Economic Development’s provides help to business owners and prospective entrepreneurs at the Arie P. Taylor Municipal Building on the first and third Friday of every month from 12pm until 3pm. Residents can simply walk-in and consult with John Hill of OED’s Business Development Division. Consultations cover a variety of topics, including the steps to starting a business in Denver, tax credit programs, financing options, tax obligations, and employer responsibilities. John will also be able to connect clients with government agencies and community resource partners. Stop by and check it out.Y

Photo by Khadija Haynes

Councilwoman Gilmore and the District 11 Council Office hosted their second annual Town Hall Visioning Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Montbello Campus Cafeteria. This meeting was attended by approximately 80 residents from District 11 communities Montbello, Parkfield, Green Valley Ranch and High Point. The purpose of the Town Hall meeting was to engage participants in voicing their opinions and ideas on District 11 preservation. At the 2016 Town Hall Visioning Meeting, the District 11 Council Office asked the community about their thoughts on the current and desired states of District 11. This year’s Town Hall Visioning Meeting was focused on what the community hoped to preserve as the district grows and changes over the next decade. Residents were divided into small groups and participated in a round robin type format where each group proceeded through multiple stations staffed by different City agencies. City agencies included Community Planning and Development, the Office of Economic Development, District 5 Police, Parks & Recreation and Public Works. Each agency gave a brief presentation on current initiatives that impact the District 11 neighborhoods. Participants used sticky notes to indicate the elements they wished to preserve in the future. The feedback that was collected will now be recorded and analyzed by staff and used to improve as well as add to the District 11 Comprehensive Work Plan. The new draft of the work plan will be released in April 2017.Y

Photo by Khadija Haynes MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



Far Northeast Community Summit

Mark your calendars! The Far Northeast Community Summit needs your input on six issues that are critical to the future of our communities! Join us and hear from experts and members of the community regarding:

•Housing •Transportation •Youth •Land Use & Development •Healthy Food Access •Workforce Development

The Far Northeast Community Summit will be held:

Date: Time: Location:

Saturday, April 29, 2017 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Evie Garrett Dennis Campus Student Union Cafeteria, 4800 Telluride St., Denver, CO 80249

This day is designed to hear you, our community, and to share information on resources available from government agencies and public/non-profit service providers who will be represented. Bring your ideas, your concerns, and your enthusiasm. The Far Northeast Community Summit is a great opportunity for all individuals who care about our communities to make a positive difference.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



Montbello Open Space Park and ELK Education and Community Center

partners including Natural Resource Damage Fund, Land and Water Conservation Fund, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, and Denver Parks and Recreation have contributed. Our corporate partners including, FirstBank, Citywide Banks, Majestic Realty, Suncor, Newmont Mining and Xcel have come forth with capital commitments as well. We give special thanks to our project partner, The Trust for Public Land, for their financial support and belief that everyone deserves easy access to places to connect with nature. Our design team of Project One, Anderson Hallas, Mundus Bishop, Chevo Studios and Sky Blue Builders are providing us with expertise to plan, design and build this place. The people who give the most inspiration are our youth. Their love for their community and their families fills me with hope. Here is a quote from one of our ELK students Nancy Gonzalez, college lead: “I have a lot of hope and vision for our education building that will be located in the Montbello community, my community. Environmental Learning for Kids is a home itself but we also want to make sure the Montbello community has a place to call home. With the Education building being in a needed community it brings promise and security to the community that their child will have a bright and well guided future. We want to make sure the students we target are well benefited from what we are going

Bringing Equity to the Community By Loretta Pineda

Environmental Learning for Kids is in the midst of a transformation. Four years ago ELK founders and community leaders envisioned a home, a place for ELK in the Montbello neighborhood. It is with great excitement that we share an update with you on Environmental Learning for Kids community campaign. ELK, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and Denver Parks and Recreation, acquired 5.5 acres of undeveloped land in the heart of Montbello. This 5.5-acre space will provide a short grass prairie, an outdoor learning laboratory (4.5 acres) open space and education and community facility (1.0 acres).

to bring to the community. Each life matters and with the education building the youth will have incredible mentors and a family they can grow from and become an outstanding person to show the world who we are truly made of. My community is priority and I know our students and the support we will give to this community will benefit our future because we are the leaders of tomorrow.” Build ELKS Home (#BuildELKsHome) offers so many possibilities for ELK and the far northeast Denver community. The community values equity, diversity, inclusion, a growing economy, and a commitment to education and natural open spaces As one of our partners recently said, “There are neighborhoods that have traditionally been excluded from great parks, and traditionally great parks have been built in nicer neighborhoods,” says Scott Gilmore, Denver Parks and Recreation deputy executive director. “That time is done. We need to be building great parks and great amenities all over our cities so all people can enjoy them.” The ELK Education Center and Montbello Open Space will allow us to satisfy the growing demand for our quality science and environmental experiences and fill a much-needed gap for after-school space, classroom availability, and community enrichment. If you have questions or would like further information, please contact me at We invite you to take part in helping us build our future home in Montbello!Y

Positioned as an anchor and trailhead within the urban environment, fostered by science, stewardship, and community, the ELK Education Center will be place where youth and their families will connect, learn, and cultivate opportunities inspired by improved access to the natural world. The land restoration project will bring much needed open space to far northeast Denver and provide daily opportunities for healthy, active recreation through play, learning, science exploration, and stewardship and greater access to nature and recreational opportunities in an urban environment for children, young adults and the rest of the northeast Denver community. The goal is to serve all members of the community with events, activities and be a community gathering point for helping residents access other neighborhood services. We are half way to our fundraising goal and our preliminary site plans are being reviewed by the Denver development and parks departments. Construction of the open space park will begin in the spring of 2017. Our partnerships on this journey continue to grow. Latest to add support is the Great Outdoors Colorado Inspire Initiative along with the Great Urban Parks Campaign a collaborative initiative of NRPA and the American Planning Association (APA). We thank the Foundations including Boettcher, Coors, Gates, Colorado Health Foundation, Beverage Family Foundation and Piton who have invested in this project. The public

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



Espacio Abierto Montbello y ELK Park y el Centro Comunitario de Educación

Nacional de Vida Silvestre y Parques y Recreación de Denver han contribuido. Nuestros socios corporativos incluyendo, FirstBank, CityWide Banks, Majestic Realty, Suncor, Newmont Mining y Xcel han salido con compromisos de capital. Debo dar gracias especiales a nuestro socio del proyecto, el Fideicomiso de Tierras Públicas, por su apoyo financiero y la creencia de que todo el mundo merece un fácil acceso a lugares para conectar con la naturaleza. Nuestro equipo de diseño de Project One, Anderson Hallas, Mundus, Obispo Chevo Studios y Sky Blue Builders, los constructores están proporcionando us con conocimientos para planificar, diseñar y construir este lugar. Las personas que dan la mayoría de inspiración son nuestros jóvenes. Su amor por su comunidad y sus familias me llena de esperanza. Aquí está una cita de uno de nuestros estudiantes ELK Nancy González, Colegio de plomo, “Tengo mucha esperanza y visión para nuestra educación edificio que estará ubicado en la comunidad Montbello, mi comunidad. Environmental Learning para niños es una casa en sí, pero también queremos asegurarnos de que la comunidad Montbello tiene un lugar para llamar a casa. Con el edificio de educación en una comunidad necesaria que trae la promesa y la seguridad a la comunidad que su hijo tendrá un futuro brillante y bien guiados. Queremos asegurarnos de que los estudiantes nos dirigimos

Trayendo la equidad para la comunidad Por Loretta Pineda

Environmental Learning para niños está en medio de una transformación. Hace cuatro años la ELK fundadores y líderes comunitarios ideó un hogar, un lugar para los alces en el barrio Montbello. Es con gran emoción que compartimos con usted una actualización sobre el aprendizaje ambiental para niños campaña comunitaria. ELK, en colaboración con el Fideicomiso de Tierras Públicas y parques y recreación de Denver, adquirió 5,5 acres de tierras ociosas en el corazón de Montbello. Este espacio de 5,5 acres proporcionará un pasto corto Prairie, un laboratorio de aprendizaje al aire libre (4.5 acres) el espacio abierto y la educación y la comunidad mundial (1.0 acres).

son bien beneficiado de lo que vamos a traer a la comunidad. Cada vida es importante y con el fomento de la educación de los jóvenes tendrán mentores increíble y una familia pueden crecer y convertirse en una persona sobresaliente para mostrar al mundo quiénes somos realmente. Mi prioridad es la comunidad y sé que nuestros estudiantes y el apoyo que dará a esta comunidad se beneficiará nuestro futuro, porque somos los líderes del mañana.” Construir ELKS Home (#BuildELKsHome) ofrece tantas posibilidades de ELK y el extremo nordeste de la comunidad de Denver. Los valores de la comunidad la equidad, la diversidad, la inclusión, una economía creciente y un compromiso con la educación y espacios naturales Como uno de nuestros socios, dijo recientemente, “Hay barrios que han sido tradicionalmente excluidos de grandes parques, y tradicionalmente se han construido grandes parques en los vecindarios más bonito,” dice Scott Gilmore, Denver Parks and Recreation director ejecutivo adjunto. “Que el tiempo se hace. Necesitamos construir grandes parques y excelentes comodidades, todo nuestras ciudades para todas las personas puedan disfrutar de ellos.” El ELK Centro Educativo Montbello y espacio abierto nos permitirá satisfacer la creciente demanda de nuestros científicos y ambientales de calidad experiencias y llenar un hueco muy necesario para después de la escuela, la disponibilidad de espacio en el aula, y el enriquecimiento de la comunidad. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta o desea más información, póngase en contacto conmigo en Te invitamos a participar en ayudarnos a construir nuestro futuro hogar en Montbello!Y

Posicionado como un ancla y la ruta dentro del entorno urbano, fomentado por la ciencia, la rectoría y la comunidad, el ELK Education Center será el lugar donde los jóvenes y sus familias podrán conectarse, aprender y cultivar oportunidades inspirado por la mejora del acceso al mundo natural. El proyecto de restauración de la tierra traerá necesita mucho espacio abierto al extremo noreste de Denver y proporcionan diariamente oportunidades de recreación sana y activa a través del juego, el aprendizaje, la ciencia, la exploración y la rectoría y el mayor acceso a la naturaleza y actividades recreativas en un entorno urbano para niños, adultos jóvenes y el resto del noreste de la comunidad de Denver. El objetivo es atender a todos los miembros de la comunidad con eventos, actividades y ser un punto de reunión de la comunidad para ayudar a los residentes el acceso a otros servicios de vecindad. Estamos a mitad de camino hacia nuestro objetivo de recaudación de fondos y planes preliminares de nuestro sitio están siendo examinados por los departamentos de parques y desarrollo de Denver. La construcción del parque de espacio abierto comenzará en la primavera de 2017. Nuestras alianzas en este viaje siguen creciendo. Para agregar el soporte más reciente es la iniciativa INSPIRE Great Outdoors Colorado junto con la gran campaña de parques urbanos una iniciativa de colaboración de NRPA y la American Planning Association (APA). Agradecemos las bases incluyendo Boettcher, Gates, Colorado Health Foundation, Fundación de la familia de bebidas y Piton que han invertido en este proyecto. El público socios incluyendo daño a los recursos naturales, el Fondo de Tierras y Aguas, el Fondo de Conservación de Rocky Mountain Arsenal el Refugio

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017


In Montbello, A Future Of

MONTBELLO IN THE NEWS Editor’s note: This article was originally printed in CONFLUENCE DENVER, a weekly online newsletter, on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 and is reprinted by permission.

By Jamie Sie

With five decades under its belt, Denver’s “City within a City” looks forward by addressing challenges pertaining to economic development, transit and community engagement. Montbello is one of the few neighborhoods in Denver where a buyer can still snag a home for a fairly reasonable price. Detached, single-family dwellings go for, on average, $258,500, according to Heather Hankins at Madison & Company Properties. And after decades of disregard, real estate prices – coupled with other bonuses: spectacular mountain views; proximity to downtown Denver – have spurred an unprecedented interest in Denver’s largest neighborhood, the quadrilateral district wedged between I-70 and Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and Peoria Street and Chambers Road. Fifty years young On June 3, 2014, Montbello High School closed, and Montbello High School’s campus has since been repurposed with three smaller, specialty schools In Sept. 2016, (2,500) Montbello residents turned out at the stomping grounds for the defunct Montbello High School, where a parade commenced a daylong celebration commemorating the neighborhood’s 50th year. Some things haven’t changed much since the community was formed in 1966, when Denver City Council annexed nearly 3,000 acres of vacant prairie grassland and farmland from Adams County. “Montbello was established to serve as an affordable community where middleclass and military families could own their own house,” explains Donna Garnett, grant manager for the three-year-old Montbello Organizing Committee and editor of MUSE, Montbello’s neighborhood newspaper. Longtime resident Chris Martinez, a senior advisor for Mayor Michael Hancock and chair of the Montbello Organizing Committee, moved to Montbello 40 years ago, when he was 22. “I came for affordability,” he says. “Quality homes, big yards – you get a lot for your money,” he adds. Montbello was the first major annexation of private land in Denver’s far northeast area, and the city hatched a master land use plan that divided the land, allocating 1,770 acres for new home construction. When the inaugural 100 single-family homes went up in 1967, newcomers could buy a four-bedroom tri-level with a two-car garage for $21,950. A couple of years later, Montbello looked like its own mini-city, with a fire station, a bank, a park, a church, and 1,200 occupied homes. About 50 manufacturers and distributors employed over 5,000 in their Montbello-based facilities. “At the close of the 1960s, the City declared Montbello ‘A tremendous success,’” Garnett wrote. By 1970, Montbello had nearly 5,000 residents; over 80 percent of that population was married and under the age of 34. “When I first moved to Montbello we were a growing community, and a suburban community of hope,” Martinez says. Today’s population of roughly 31,599 (according to a 2014 indicator) is racially diverse, with 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data showing 62 percent of residents are Latino, 24 percent African American, 11 percent Caucasian, and 2 percent Asian. The community is still young: Over half of residents are under the age of 34, and there are an estimated 6,668 families. A quarter of those families live in poverty, which is high compared to metro Denver’s overall poverty rate of 12.1 percent in 2014, according to CBS Denver. When Denver Community Planning and Development evaluated Montbello in anticipation for its accelerated citywide neighborhood planning initiative, analysts found that changes in median income over a 10-year period were low when compared to other neighborhoods in Denver. When the Montbello community does get media attention, it’s typically for its crime rates. The neighborhood has been ranked among Denver’s most dangerous neighborhoods by several local news outlets, including Fox 31 Denver and Westword. While some residents are quick to claim that their neighborhood is in the bottom quarter for crime rate, that figure doesn’t totally reconcile with the Denver Police Department’s 2014 annual report. According to police data, Montbello experiences more crime than most other Denver neighborhoods. The neighborhood, though, has a significantly larger population: Compare Montbello’s 31,599 residents to, say, Cherry Creek’s 5,491, and Montbello’s crime rate – with 1,042 incidents in 2014, or 32 per 1,000 residents — is about 60 percent lower, per capita, than Cherry Creek’s rate of 73 per 1,000 residents (401 total). Until recently, the perception of Montbello as a violent neighborhood kept people out, according to Angelle Fouther, a Montbello resident and founding member of the Montbello Organizing Committee. But, as development in Denver reaches a fever pitch, Montbello is beginning to look like an untapped resource to outsiders. A vision for the future Denver Community Planning and Development’s new neighborhood area plan ini-

Photos by Kara Pea

tiative launches this year with a focus on the Far Northeast area that encompasses Montbello, Gateway and Green Valley Ranch. Only about 20 percent of Denver has an up-to-date area plan; the city’s latest model will introduce accelerated plans into every neighborhood in a 10- to 14-year time frame, providing detailed recommendations for land use, future development, mobility, and open space. “Working with the community we’ll try to set a vision for what the area wants to be,” explains Courtland Hyser, the principal city planner who is overseeing Far Northeast neighborhood planning. The process, Hyser says, will take 18 to 24 months, start to finish, and kicks off On on June 3, 2014, Montebello High School c this spring with “a public process has since been repurposed with three smaller, focused on getting as much engagement with the community as possible.” Montbello should be an easy community to engage. Fouther and other stakeholders founded the Montbello Organizing Committee back in 2013, and started their own community engagement process near the end of 2014 with a public event. “We held another session in January 2015 to prioritize issues that came up at the first event,” says Fouther, turning first to the local economy. A food swamp “Montbello was originally a community of growth and opportunity,” says Martinez. “We’ve had a huge increase in population, but it seems we have gone backwards in regards to retail opportunity. Folks are taking their dollars elsewhere.” The grocery sector is a prime example. The neighborhood is a desMany community members don't have walka ignated food desert. “Montbello has and Pena Blvd and 40th Avenue...Photo by Kara Pe three times the population of your average Denver neighborhood, and there’s no full-service grocery,” Fouther says. She says it’s not just a food desert, but a “food swamp” because of the preponderance of unhealthy food. Safeway opened a branch in Montbello in 1969, near the intersection of Peoria Street and Albrook Drive, on the neighborhood’s westernmost border. The grocer relocated to Montbello’s east side, and operated from a brick-and-mortar on Chambers Road, across the street from an Albertsons, until 2015, when the companies merged and closed under-performing stores in both chains to cut costs. “Safeway made the determination that its Montbello store was one of its lowest-performing stores,” says Martinez. “Part of that was their inability to accommodate the local market with fresh produce and ethnic foods.” Walmart reacted to the Safeway and Albertsons closures, opening a Neighborhood Market, “a smaller version of the chain where you can buy some groceries and limited produce,” Fouther says. “It is not a full-service store.” The nearest full-service grocer is a King Soopers located in neighboring Green

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017


f Promise And Challenge


assessed walkability in Montbello for a class project last fall. Students performed onsite audits, researched demographic data for their study area, and interviewed local residents about their walking habits, challenges, and needs. The students were then asked to identify “walkability gaps.” “When we talk about what makes a place walkable, there are two key ingredients: The quality of the pedestrian infrastructure, and having places to walk to,” Schroeppel begins. In Montbello’s case, the lack of destinations within walking distance of residential areas is just as big of a problem as the quality of the pedestrian infrastructure. Land use can be “a pretty difficult fix,” Schroeppel admits. “You’re talking about changing the fundamental uses of land,” he continues, and recommends policy changes – rezoning, for example – that would allow for the types of walkable developments that serve neighborhood needs, especially local grocery stores, cultural destinations and community spaces. City planners, says Schroeppel, should “identify key undeveloped parcels in the interior of the neighborhood, and rezone with the goal of getting small-scale development to occur in the interior part of the neighborhood over the next decade.” In the interim, planners can focus on short-term fixes that address the infrastructure needs in places residents are already walking. “Traffic goes fairly fast, even on residential streets,” says Schroeppel, explaining that narrowing wide streets with, say, bike lanes would help reduce vehicle speed. City planners might also consider widening existing sidewalks, which are currently narrow and attached to the curbs, and adding more painted crosswalks, especially near schools and bus and train stops. Take RTD’s A Line, for example, which opened to Montbello residents last year. Many community members don’t have walkable access to the stations at I-70 and Peoria and Pena Blvd and 40th Avenue, according to Martinez. “You have to go way out of your way in order to get into the stations when you are walking,” he says. “Even if they are close in proximity to a resident, they aren’t accessible.” Folks, then, often drive to their RTD stations or take the bus. And the bus service, Martinez says, isn’t currently meeting the community’s needs either. When RTD opened the A Line, it realigned its bus routes. After drawn-out negotiations between neighbors and RTD representatives, Montbello ended up with two bus routes, down from the five that existed beforehand. “We’re working with the city, and still working with RTD,” Martinez says. One potential solution is “a taxi or Uber service co-op that would service residents in Montbello.” Other Colorado communities have established such services to help with first- and last-mile connectivity. “They’ve mostly been directed toward seniors, but I think we could really utilize something like that in Montbello,” Martinez adds. Fostering community spirit Montbello could also use a venue for fostering community camaraderie. Montbello High School, a traditional DPS school, served as a social hub for neighbors since opening its doors in 1980; in 2010, though, the Denver Public Schools Board voted to phase out its public high school, citing poor test scores and dropping enrollment as key figures in the decision. The entity shuttered on June 3, 2014, and Montbello High School’s campus has since been repurposed with three smaller, specialty schools: Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello, Noel Community Arts School and STRIVE Prep Montbello. Things haven’t been the same. As Garnett, writing for MUSE, put it, “Many view the dismantling of Montbello High School . . . as the destruction of one of the most unifying institutions in the community.” According to Martinez, “Montbello truly was a small town-atmosphere. [High school] sports drew a lot of pride into the community.” Some Montbello residents are working to fill the gap. “There is no venue for arts and culture here,” Garnett says. “If you’re an artist in Montbello, you have to go outside the community to [showcase] your art.” A centrally located, arts-oriented cultural hub could kill two birds in one stone, acting as a gathering place and bolstering local artists, too. “We have a couple of places in mind, but are still in negotiations,” Garnett says. For decades, Montbello has “been a kept secret,” says Martinez. “It takes time to get things moving in the right direction, and the city is definitely working with us.” “Suddenly everyone is interested in Montbello,” echoes Garnett, calling for conscious and thoughtful development. Fouther adds, “We want to hang on to this community. We don’t want it to be enhanced and turned over to somebody else. If you want to build alongside of current and long-term residents, we’re an open and welcoming community – but we don’t want our residents to be displaced.” Y


arson Gwinn.

Valley Ranch. Montbello residents who own cars can go outside of the community for their supermarket needs. “Those that can’t rely on 7-Eleven and Family Dollar for quick fixes,” Fouther says. A team at Montbello Organizing Committee recently conducted a market scan with JVA Consulting and determined that there’s plenty of demand for a neighborhood grocer. “We’ve had meetings with King Soopers and a Sprouts representative,” Fouther says. The city, she adds, has established a million-dollar incentive for prospective grocers, consisting of $250,000 in grant money, and $750,000 in low-interest loans. In the meantime, community closed, and Montbello High School's campus members are taking matters into , specialty schools...Photo by Kara Pearson Gwinn their own hands, maintaining an urban garden at the United Church of Montbello, where Fouther’s husband is pastor. The church’s acre-and-a-half plot is moving into its fourth year of production; beyond growing 400 pounds of produce a week seasonally for Food Bank of the Rockies, the garden also functions as a teaching tool for about 300 local youth annually. Plus, Garnett adds that Montbello residents “can come and give some sweat equity.” With funding from The Kresge Foundation, Garnett and her cohorts intend to expand on their community garden concept, possibly converting the space into “a food hub,” as Garnett puts it, which might include a greenhouse and coop, too. “Part of it is changing the narrative,” says Fouther. “Just because ble access to the stations at I-70 and Peoria there’s a swamping of fast and earson Gwinn processed food in low-income communities doesn’t mean that’s what a community wants.” The food system isn’t Montbello’s sole retail problem. The neighborhood was developed during the height of automobile-oriented suburban sprawl, and maybe that’s why “[t]here’s just not enough retail,” as Martinez puts it. According to Denver’s Office of Economic Development, 1,276 businesses operate in Montbello. Commercial and industrial strips, though, are confined to the edges of the neighborhood. Montbello is “very segregated in land use,” says Ken Schroeppel, assistant professor at CU Denver. “Unless you happen to live fairly close to one of the two boundary streets, you really don’t have any place to walk to.” Transit-oriented development Many community members don’t have walkable access to the stations at I-70 and Peoria and Pena Blvd and 40th Avenue. Land-use principles and a lack of destination have informed infrastructure, and transportation, Fouther says, is another urgent issue in Montbello. In partnership with WalkDenver, Schroeppel’s urban planning graduate students

Editor’s note: Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer who writes about art, culture, and parenting for Confluence Denver, Westword and Colorado Parent.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



Children’s Farms of America Partners with Healthy Beverage Partnership to Educate Parents and Caregivers About Hidden Sugar

Many parents and caregivers are not aware of the hidden sugar in many of the beverages that they give to their children. That’s why the Healthy Beverage Partnership in conjunction with Children’s Farms of America is promoting a new campaign aimed at educating parents and caregivers about the harmful effects of sugar and informing them of the high sugar content in many of the beverages they may be giving to their kids. Sugary beverages are the single largest contributor of calories to our diet. By drinking just one sugary drink a day, a child has 25 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, 55 percent greater risk of being overweight or obese, and 150 percent greater risk of developing fat deposits in their liver, contributing to diabetes and heart disease. Sugary drinks are associated with nearly twice the risk of dental cavities in children. Consumption of sugary beverages is the single largest contributor of calories and added sugars to our diet. These calories contribute to weight gain and provide little to no nutritional value. One 10 oz. bottle of Fruit Punch has 38g of sugar, equivalent to about 10 chocolate chip cookies. In Colorado, approximately one in three adults and one in five children consume at least one sugary drink per day. In Colorado, sugary drink consumption is disproportionately high among Hispanic youth. Health outcomes such as being overweight and developing diabetes are also higher among Hispanic youth compared to non-Hispanic white youth. The ‘Hidden Sugar’ campaign was designed to bring to light the many surprising places where sugar can hide. Parents would never give their child 10 cookies for breakfast, but that’s exactly what they are doing when they give them a 10-ounce bottle of fruit punch. Most parents don’t realize that. Through simple graphics, the Hidden Sugar campaign compares the sugar levels of sugary drinks like juice drinks, sports drinks, and soda to the sugar levels found in sugary foods and desserts, such as cookies, donuts, popsicles, and more. The campaign also promotes healthier options including tap or fruit infused water. The Healthy Beverage Partnership is made up of six lead agencies, Denver Public Health, Boulder County Public Health, Broomfield Public Health and Environment, Denver Environmental Health, Jefferson County Public Health and Tri-County Health Department. Each county is facilitating local coalitions to engage everyone in this effort to improve dietary habits, shift norms and build healthier communities together. Y

Editor’s note: For more information on the Hidden Sugar campaign, visit

To Engage or Not to Engage? By Vernon Jones Jr.

We hear a lot of rhetoric about parent engagement. We often see disconnect between that rhetoric and the reality of parent engagement. I have seen the welcome mat for parents in some schools and the opposite in others. I have seen leaders embrace the “nice, never challenge me” parents and reject the “I’ve got a question or idea” parents. I have heard and seen professionals shift their practices when they knew parents were coming and I have seen the opposite; pathetic practices because “those parents don’t care or aren’t coming.” Well, here we come! Here we are! I’m not advocating for us being helicopter parents that don’t give our scholars or the school staff room to breathe and be what they need to be together. I am saying that parents/guardians must be a regular partner in the school in ways that are meaningful and that help the school to move scholars from current reality to desired reality! We can’t be absent. In creative ways, we have to be active in helping our schools to be successful for our children. Before you engage, here is a quick list of seven things to know. 1. Know and be known by the school leadership and staff that serve your scholar. Remember that it is a partnership. Establishing relationships builds trust and trust builds community. 2. Know the policies and procedures outlined in the school’s parent and scholar handbook. Be familiar with check in and check out procedures when visiting or picking up your scholar early. 3. Know what your scholar should know and be able to do at her or his specific age and stage of cognitive development. Expect regular communication of progress. 4. Know your scholar’s rights and the responsibilities of the school related to IEPs, 504 Plans, discipline policies and procedures, Student privacy, etc. Ask tons of questions. Get answers. 5. Know your school’s governance structure so that you know where to go directly with suggestions for improvement, concerns, and grievances. Commit to healthy com-

munication even in challenging circumstances. 6. Know your school’s mission, vision, values and goals. Be committed to them and monitor progress regularly via your School Accountability Committee (SAC) or Collaborative School Committee (CSC). 7. Know where you can engage and do it! Be it the PTO, a classroom volunteer, a field trip chaperone, cross walk duty, or a guest reader, engage! Remember that school is community and community is school. Parents/guardians are an essential piece in the puzzle of school success. If we want the best for our children our engagement is necessary. Schools cannot do it alone. We are needed, for every child, in every classroom, throughout our community. Together we can achieve a desired reality that is in alignment with our shared hopes and highest aspirations for our children and therefore our community. To engage or not to engage? ENGAGE! Y

Editor’s note: Vernon Jones Jr. (PJones) is President of Live Forward Colorado, Associate Pastor at True Light Baptist Church, a Catapult Leadership Fellow and a former leader in Denver Public Schools. He is a 17-year resident of Northeast Denver with wife Jaymie and their five children. You can reach him at

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



Physical Activity Should Be a Part of the School Day By Sarah Kurz, LiveWell Colorado

While Coloradans have much to be proud of, the reality is that we’re not as healthy as we think we are, especially our kids. Colorado’s great quality of life has attracted healthy, educated adults yet we’ve struggled to provide that same healthy environment for the children born and raised here. One in four Colorado kids is overweight or obese. Healthy youth are fundamental to Colorado’s future. That’s why we partner with A+ Denver and other organizations to advocate for increased and improved physical education in Colorado schools. Our education system can and should play a critical role in ensuring our kids grow up healthy. Yet Colorado ranks a mediocre 24th in the nation for our children’s level of physical activity with nearly 55 percent of kids not getting the recommended amount of physical activity each week. Colorado is one of only three states where physical education is not a required part of our state’s public school curriculum at the elementary, middle or secondary level. Additionally, less than half of all Colorado middle school students attend PE five days a week and nearly a third of Colorado middle schoolers don’t play sports outside of school. Physical activity is not just good for kids’ bodies, but also for their brains. Physical activity during the school day (e.g., recess, PE, classroom movement breaks) has been linked to immediate gains in cognitive performance, improved academic performance, standardized test performance, grades and higher levels of brain activity. Kids who are physically active during the school day also have fewer behavior problems. Disciplinary action and suspensions among students also decreased when PE is offered for five days per week. By helping kids be more physically active and eat well, we can help them succeed academically, better preparing them for lifelong success.

Physical activity in schools is critical because in many cases Colorado children lack parks and playgrounds in their neighborhoods, so they can’t get the physical activity they need to be healthy. Approximately 30 percent of Colorado kids live in neighborhoods without parks, community centers, and/or safe sidewalks, limiting their ability to be physically active. Chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, are more prevalent among poor or less educated individuals than those with higher incomes or more education, and that is due in large part to unequal opportunities to have healthy lifestyles. The conditions at work, home, and school have a big impact on our health, and many people face barriers that prevent them from making healthy choices, or from even having a choice at all. Latinos, African Americans and low-income families often are more likely to lack healthy food options and safe places to be physically active close to home. These barriers to healthy food and physical activity can lead to higher rates of obesity. Twentyfive percent of Coloradans who make $25,000 or less are obese compared to 20 percent of those making $50,000 or more. Our public schools offer an opportunity to level the playing field for these kids and their families by ensuring that all students have access to a high-quality education that includes regular physical education. Our goal at LiveWell Colorado is to remove barriers to healthy living. That’s why LiveWell Colorado works across the state to serve the communities, schools, cities and towns with the greatest needs when it comes to health access and equity. You can send a message to schools and districts that you value physical activity as part of a well-balanced education. We hope you will join us in this effort by signing up at to help. Are you in? Y

Editor’s note: Montbello, through the Montbello Organizing Committee, is a community partner to LiveWell Colorado, working together to eliminate barriers to healthy eating and active living.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



Colorado Black Arts Movement (CBAM) and Montbello Organizing Committee (MOC) Win $10,000 in Art Tank Competition By Donna Garnett

Started in 2013 by several artists and arts patrons, CBAM’s mission is to cultivate and export art created by Colorado Black artists of all genres. The goals of CBAM are to: •Create structures of support (financial, business plans, presentation collateral, space acquisition for performance or display, etc.) for Colorado Black artists; •Raise dedicated private funds for programmatic efforts reflecting the talents of Colorado Black artists; •Empower local solutions and approaches to arts and creative enterprises on behalf of Colorado Black artists; •Support arts education in schools. The goal of My Dinner In Montbello - A Culinary Drama Starring Tomato is to ignite conversation and the knitting together of the many cultures and traditions represented in Montbello and to lead the community in cultural place-making toward the opening of Montbello’s “Cultural Hub.” My Dinner will premier in September, 2017. Y

Stapleton Foundation be well Awards Recognizes Montbello Resident Ann White

Excitement was high as the house lights went down and a troupe of five adults and six children walked on stage at Denver University’s Newman Center on the evening of February 7. These representatives of Colorado Black Arts Movement and Montbello Organizing Committee were part of Denver Foundation’s annual Colorado Art Tank competition. Art Tank is an initiative of the Arts Affinity Group (AAG) of the Foundation. Since its inception in 2014, the AAG has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of nonprofit arts organizations that are changing Denver into the world class creative city it is. Colorado Art Tank is an interactive community event showcasing Denver’s best artists and creative projects. Finalists are selected through an open application process and invited to present their business “unusual” projects in front of a live audience and a panel of arts community leaders. Art Tank encourages arts organizations to conceive of and present bold, innovative ideas to compete for funding awarded through live voting at the finale of the event. Colorado Black Arts Movement was among six finalist organizations selected to present their concept to the panel of judges. In a “Shark Tank” type format (except not so nasty), the Montbello team had ten minutes to make their case and answer questions from the judges’ panel. CBAM cofounders, Khadija Haynes and Kenneth Grimes, talked about cultural divisions between people of color in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood, and how the groups’ project, My Dinner in Montbello: A Culinary Drama Starring Tomato, would combine theater and meal preparation in a unique art form to bridge the gaps and showcase the similarities among families in the community. During the presentation three family groups hastily prepared dishes that were representative of their racial and ethnic background. The common denominator in each dish was plump ripe tomatoes! “Food is a connector and meals in living rooms, kitchens and at community events are the common starting point for discussion about life in a food desert, the need for artistic opportunities for residents, and a way to bridge the widening gap between Montbello’s diverse communities of color,” explained Haynes. Grimes added, “My Dinner In Montbello will provide an opportunity to engage residents in the arts as artists and theater-goers at the same time they experience other cultures and get to know their neighbors.” At the end of the presentation, audience members were presented with their own culinary delight, as the children in the performance scurried down the aisles distributing tomato samples. Over the next two hours, five other finalist teams presented their concepts and the judges began their deliberations. Other competitors included Spark City Children’s Museum, Warm Cookies of the Revolution, Redline Contemporary Art Center, the bARTer Collective, and Arts Street. After a brief intermission, the finalists were called back to the stage and the winners were announced. Colorado Black Arts Movement won third place honors and received a $10,000 grant to help launch the My Dinner in Montbello project.

Denver residents who have made a difference in the health of their local communities were honored during the Stapleton Foundation’s 7th Annual be well Healthy Living Heroes Awards and Community Celebration. Former Denver Bronco running back Reggie Rivers once again served as the master of ceremonies as dozens of our community’s residents were recognized for their significant achievements in support of healthy living. The be well Health and Wellness Initiative honored Ann E. White with this year’s Legacy Award. Ms. Ann, as she is affectionately known, has been a tireless advocate for community for over 30 years. As chair of the Montbello 2020 registered neighborhood organization, she dedicates herself to informing and empowering the residents of Montbello. Ms. Ann volunteers her time at church and partners with other groups to organize community events, such as last year’s Montbello 50th Anniversary Celebration. Other community advocates receiving individual honors included: •Jennifer Seward - Nutrition Leadership Award •Su Baw - Community Advocate of the Year Award •Kevin McKenzie - Physical Activity Leadership Award •Kendra Collings - Preventative Care Leadership Award •Jennifer Taylor - Community Service Award For more than a decade the be well Health and Wellness Initiative has been at the forefront of efforts to support healthy lifestyle changes in our community. Programs generated by be well have resulted in residents being more informed about how to lead healthy lives and advocate for increased access to healthy living resources. A key component to its success has been the signature Block Captain program. This year along with dozens of youth and adults receiving program completion certificates, new communities from the Asian Pacific Development Center and Steamboat Springs were celebrated for starting Block Captain programs in their communities. As with previous years, civic and business leaders were on hand to lend their support. Colorado Health Foundation President and CEO Karen McNeil-Miller served as the keynote, while Councilman Christopher Herndon, State Senator Angela Williams, Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore and Director of Parks, Recreation and Open Space for the City of Aurora Tom Barrett all offered healthy living comments and congratulatory remarks focused on the honorees. The be well Health and Wellness Initiative is currently accepting registrations for new Block Captains and is offering its latest set of free health and wellness classes at be well Centers within the Hiawatha Davis, Central Park and Martin Luther King recreation centers.Y

Editor’s note: For more information, visit or on Facebook @bewellHealthandWellnessInitiative.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017



Signing Day Celebration in the Far Northeast

Bringing Back the Arts Foundation Celebrates its Annual Student Showcases and Competitions in April

Signing Day for high school athletes has become a pivotal day for any student-athlete who desires to take their athleticism to the next level. This is the moment where students commit to a specific college or university with the intention of playing their sport of choice for that institution.

By Gerri Gomez-Howard

Montbello students interested in music, dance, and visual arts are encouraged to participate

Each year the Bringing Back the Arts Foundation (BBTA) encourages Denver students to pursue their passion for the arts and participate in annual showcases and competitions. This year marks the 6th annual BBTA Music competition which will be held on April 30 at the Gothic Theatre. Denver High School students are invited to submit their music for consideration. All performers must be in high school although not all members of a band or choir need to be students from Denver schools. Solo acts are also encouraged. This competition is open to public, private, and faith-based high schools across the Denver area. Submissions will be accepted until March 30 and winners will receive cash prizes. Performers should submit a song no more than 5 minutes for consideration. Those interested in participating are encouraged to contact the music teacher at their school or email the BBTA at for more information. In addition to the music competition, BBTA invites visual artists in grades K-12 to submit a 2D or 3D piece of art that embraces the theme, “We are all Denver.” Winners will receive cash prizes as well as art supplies. Student artwork will be displayed in a local gallery in conjunction with a reception on May 12. Submissions are due on or before April 28. The BBTA Dance Showcase, now in its third year, will be held on April 22 at South High School. The all-day event will showcase dancers from across the city and will also include workshops for students interested in dance. In order to participate, please visit or send an inquiry to Students are required to register by April 15. Bringing Back the Arts Foundation (BBTA) was founded by Denver’s First Lady, Mary Louise Lee. The organization strives to empower youth in Denver through creative expression. The Foundation works to restore art programs in Denver Schools expands access to the city’s cultural institutions and spotlights the talents of local performing artists. Y

Senior Kheshaun Brown, starting quarterback of the Far Northeast Warriors, celebrated that very honor on Feb. 2, as he committed to Presentation College in South Dakota. Kheshaun has played football over 10 years and has been the starting quarterback for the Warriors the past two years. Friends, family, teammates and fellow Warrior athletes joined him in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College’s cafetorium to participate in this momentous occasion. When asked about why he chose the school he did, he answered, “I chose Presentation College because I think that it would be a good opportunity for me to grow as a person as well as an athlete there. I think there’s a lot of support there and it fits me well.” Kheshaun joins another Warrior quarterback who currently plays football at the collegiate level, MLK alum, Alpoitier “AJ” Thompson, Jr. who currently plays for CSU Pueblo. Congratulations, Kheshaun. We wish you the best! Y

Leadership Opportunities for Montbello Students

Editor’s note: For more information about BBTA and how to get involved, visit or on Facebook/@bringingbacktheartsfoundation.

Northeast Denver Leadership Week (NDLW), founded by Councilman Chris Herndon in District 8, offers high school students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to connect with civic and industry leaders throughout Denver. The program’s goal is to grow the next generation of leaders by educating students about careers in leadership and inspiring and motivating them to pursue such roles in their own careers. Programming consists of a week-long series of site visits and personal meetings with leaders who are finding success and driving change in Denver. NDLW is free for all participants, and lunch is provided each day. Students are eligible to attend if they are currently in grade 9, 10 or 11 and live or go to school in Northeast Denver. Leadership activities in 2016 included trips to the Denver City and County Building, Denver Zoo, Kaiser Permanente, FBI, RK Mechanical, Forest City, Denver Police Academy, Fire Academy, County Jail, Junior Achievement’s Finance Park, Mental Health Center’s Dahlia Campus for Health and Wellbeing, Young Professionals Panel, and Auraria Campus, and University of Colorado Denver Campus. The 2017 program runs June 12 to 16. Interested students can go to to apply. For more information call 720-337-8888 or email Space is limited so do it today.Y

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017


Denver Public Schools to Launch Far Northeast Engagement Process


By Donna Garnett


Empowering families with resources to Aid in restoration with a fresh new perspective on life


•A Support Group •Open Forum •Resource Referrals •Fellowship with other families


For more information and support group time, call:

Dianne Cooks at 720-276-4611, Michael Hope or Francella Baker at (720) 767–5901 or email f.a.v.a57@hotmail .com


4840 N. Chambers Road, Unit A Denver, 80239


“Aggressively seeks to mend the hurting hearts of families affected by a violent act”

Denver Public Schools has announced that it will begin a process to address the education needs of students in Far Northeast Denver (FNE). The goals of the process are to engage with parents, students, and community leaders in the communities of Montbello, Parkfield, Gateway, and Green Valley Ranch to first identify the state of DPS in the Far Northeast. Beyond that, the goal is to ultimately define a plan, with considerable community input, and then get feedback from the communities. In other words, DPS intends to listen to and learn from the people who have the biggest stake in the educational outcomes of our children and youth. Beyond that, the school board is committed to developing a plan that takes into account the multi-dimensional needs and concerns of the community as a context for what to do about schools. According to Gregory Hatcher, Director of Public Affairs for Denver Public Schools and a resident of Green Valley Ranch, the initial FNE Learning Sessions will kick off in March. The meeting days and times are: •March 14, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm in Montbello •March 22, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm in Parkfield •March 23, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm in Green Valley Ranch Locations for each of the meetings are being determined. To get that information, email or Participants in the sessions will have an opportunity to weigh-

in on the state of DPS on topics such as athletics, School Performance Framework, School Compacts, extracurricular and enrichment activities, school safety, school options, transportation, etc. Some of the questions to be addressed include “what are the most pressing education issues in the community;” “what is working well in education in the community;” “what short and long-term action steps can DPS take to build collaborative, inclusive relationships with the FNE community?” Superintendent Tom Boasberg and School Board member representing Northeast Denver, Rachele Espiritu, will be present at all three meetings. In the second phase of the planning process, a series of school-based meetings will be held at twelve local schools to further engage stakeholders in the actual plan development. These meetings will be held on a fast timeline beginning April 10 and ending by May 5. Finally, the FNE Engagement process, plan development, and implementation will be shepherded by a new FNE Commission. Those interested in being selected to participate on this Commission will need to apply to be considered. That process and the timeline for establishing the Commission is still being determined. Look for announcements through Montbello Organizing Committee, Montbello 2020, Steps To Success, Councilwoman Gilmore’s office, and other community organizations. Y

Editor’s note: Additional information can be obtained by contacting

4848 Chambers Road Aurora Colorado 80239 303.371.8531

Services: Cuts • Shampoo • Designs • Shave/Line-up • Texturizer

Charles Sagere

Barber Chief Operating Officer 720.298.1911

Gregory E. Allen, PMP, MS

Chief Executive Officer 303-587-6567 MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017


Montbello Tagged Hottest Suburban Housing Market in the Country

MONTBELLO IN THE NEWS, in February, released its study on hottest housing markets in the country. The list was topped by Montbello – classified as a suburb of Denver. The hottest housing markets are deemed so on the basis of the company’s Market Hotness Index. According to the study, driving the popularity of the top suburban markets are: “proximity to thriving urban centers and strong household growth.” The designation shouldn’t have come as a surprise as Denver has consistently been touted as a hot (sizzling) market with an average of a 20.6 percent annual rate of home price appreciation. Builder magazine reporting on the study described Montbello as an “up-and-coming neighborhood [that] sits northeast of Denver. It is home to a busy commercial warehouse district and offers some of the most affordable homes in close proximity to Denver. It is centrally located near Denver International Airport, as well as I-70 and I-225. Properties in this area spent 19 days on the market, on average, in 2016, which is 40 days less than the typical property in the study.” Part of the appeal of the 80239-zip code is the fact that average home price in the neighborhood is just $275,000, which is 47 percent below Denver’s average price overall of $519,000. For that price, the buyer gets a good-sized house and over-sized yard, comparatively. Ask just about any long-term resident of the community what they like best about Montbello and they will

undoubtedly include house and yard size in their list of positives. This announcement comes as good news to those looking to sell their home quickly and to those who desire more upscale amenities in the neighborhood. It is especially appealing to the starry-eyed developers eager to rush in early to snap up properties before the Montbello housing market catches up to the rest of the Denver market. On the flip-side, this announcement spells concern to local advocates for communities of color and disenfranchised populations. Rapid and geometric increases in property tax are among those concerns as is looming gentrification. In another study released in January, 2017 by identifying Denver as the fifth fastest gentrifying city in the country, Stephen Moore, policy director for FRESC, a local nonprofit organization working with low-income communities is quoted as saying “many of our historical black and Hispanic communities are being destroyed explicitly by gentrification.” Dace West, Executive Director of Mile High Connects, a local nonprofit organization with ties to Montbello, emphasizes her concern. “The issues of gentrification and affordability are complex. Investments in the community are critical but, at the same time, we have to consider how to ensure that people who have lived in Montbello for many years aren’t displaced. It is more important now than ever that the organizing efforts of residents continue.” The challenge for Montbello is to find the balance between thoughtful investment and policies that protect the people that live here now, and help them be able to stay.Y

Can’t find your favorite community publication? We can help!

Pick up your copy of MUSE at the following distribution outlets:

(To add your business as an outlet or to advertise, call Melovy Melvin at 303-292-6446). 45th & 46th and Peoria St.

4800 Chambers Plaza

US Bank Citywide BankArie Taylor Building

Nail Shop Montbello Barbers Mailbox Express Taqueria Bakery

Peoria Plaza

P/T Nails Coin Laundry Bocaza Mexigrill

Wal-Mart Plaza Chambers

Mickey’s Barber Cleaners Laundromat

Sable Ridge Apts.

China Chef Laundromat Loco Pollo

Peoria Albrook Plaza

(40th & Chambers)

1st CHRISTIAN BAPTIST (12505 Elmendorf) Kinder Kollege (Albrook & Tulsa Court) Montbello Library (Albrook & Crown) Boys & Girls Club (Albrook & Crown) Montbello Manor (4356 Carson Street) United Church of Montbello (Crown & Andrews) True Light Baptist Church (14333 Bolling Avenue)

Gateway Liquors

(40th & Tower Road)

48th & Tower Road

Towers Liquors GVR library Crowning Glory Salon African Bar & Grill

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017


March/April 2017 March 4 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Women’s Self-Defense Class, DPD District 5 - Community Hub at Northfield, 8230 E. Northfield Blvd. RSVP to Space is limited. Must be 15 or older to participate

March 6 - 6:30 to 8 p.m.

MOC Retail Development Task Team - United Church of Montbello, 4879 Crown Blvd. For more information, email

March 7 - 4 to 6 p.m.

Monthly Meeting of Latino Seniors and Families Latino Community Foundation of Colorado Village at Gateway Apartments Community Room - 12175 Albrook Dr., Denver 80239 For more information, call Daniela Young at 303-398-7447 or email

March 8 - 6 to 7:30 p.m.

MOC Beautification Task Team - Academy 360 12000 East 47th Avenue For more information, email

March 11 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Office Hours with Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore - Green Valley Ranch Library For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email

March 19 - 6 to 7:30 p.m.

MOC Transportation Development Task Team - Academy 360 12000 East 47th Avenue For more information, email

March 30 - 10 a.m. to noon

Office Hours with Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore - Arie P. Taylor Building Council District 11 Office For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email

April 3 - 6:30 to 8 p.m.

MOC Retail Development Task Team - United Church of Montbello, 4879 Crown Blvd. For more information, email

April 4 - 4 to 6 p.m.

Monthly Meeting of Latino Seniors and Families Latino Community Foundation of Colorado Village at Gateway Apartments Community Room - 12175 Albrook Dr., Denver 80239 For more information, call Daniela Young at 303-398-7447 or email

April 6 - 6 to 8 p.m.

Montbello 20/20 Community Meeting - Montbello 20/20, Montbello Recreation Center 15555 E 53rd Ave, Denver, CO 80239 For more information contact

April 8 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Office Hours with Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore - Green Valley Ranch Library For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email

April 12 - 6 to 7:30 p.m.

MOC Beautification Task Team - Academy 360 12000 East 47th Avenue For more information, email

April 17 - 6 to 7:30 p.m.

MOC Transportation Development Task Team - Academy 360 12000 East 47th Avenue For more information, email

April 27 - 10 a.m. to noon

Office Hours with Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore - Arie P. Taylor Building Council District 11 Office For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email

April 29 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Far Northeast Community Economic Summit District 11 Council Office, Mayor’s Office and Office of Economic Development Evie Garrett Dennis Campus - 4800 Telluride St Denver CO 80249 For more info contact 720-337-7711 or

If you have a Save The Date activity to be listed in the May/June issue of MUSE, send details to MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - March/April 2017


MUSE March/April 2017  

Message to Immigrants and Refugees: You are welcome in this community!

MUSE March/April 2017  

Message to Immigrants and Refugees: You are welcome in this community!